Notícias de Timor-Leste

Daily Media Review
Compiled by the Public Information Office from national and international sources

Friday, 01 September 2006

Minister of Justice Responsible for Prisoners Getaway
MPs have raised their concerns in relation to the prisoners that escaped from jail on Wednesday saying Minister of Justice is responsible. The President of the National Parliament, Francisco Lu’Olo Guterres lamented the incident noting that such an incident had not occurred in the past four years. Guterres considered the case to be serious for the trial process. He said the fundamental problem of the incident rests with the Ministers of Justice and Defence and the trainers. He added that the Minister for Justice should have looked into the security of the prison following the withdrawal of the international forces. Some of the MPs were of the opinion that the Minister of Justice, Domingos Sarmento, should be asked to resign as a result of the prison escape; others raised the concern that the escape of Alfredo and other prisoners would have a negative impact on the elections in 2007 and some said it would stop the reconciliation process that has been organized by President Gusmão. In the meantime the Minister of Justice, Domingos Sarmento said he is prepared to step down but it is up to the Prime Minister to decide.

In a separate article, the Director of NGO Yayasan Hak, Jose Luis Oliveira said the getaway of Alfredo and other prisoners would not only have an impact on the government but greatly on the population of Dili. Oliveira said it is likely that some people have already packed and left for the districts. According to Diario Nacional, Oliveira said another impact would be on the reconciliation process, which is part of the government program to resolve the recent crisis.

Still on the escape of the prisoners, Aniceto Neves, an observer from Hak said the government has given big expense salaries to the international judges to strengthen the judicial system in Timor-Leste but it continues to remain the same. He further said there are many people in the jails in Becora, Ermera and Baucau whose status has not been revised, adding he is of the opinion that the contract with the international prosecutors is not fortifying the Timorese justice. Neves is of the opinion the getaway of the prisoners on Wednesday is the government’s fault. He pointed out that Alfredo and his group were on trial detention up until 28 August but did not receive a court justification. He questioned why they were detained beyond the set date and prolonged until the 30th to be the start of investigations which did not happen. He also said Alfredo received many threats while in detention, reported STL.

Diario Nacional reported Minister of Justice, Domingos Sarmento as saying that the prison guards were threatened with grass scissors when visiting time was coming to an end, adding that a team has been formed to work with the international police to investigate the 60 prison guards on duty.

Prime Minister Ramos-Horta appealed to the population not be concerned with Alfredo’s escape because he is not the “giant of Timor-Leste”, adding Major Alfredo was in detention for carrying illegal weapons. In relation to reports of F-FDTL in possession of weapons, the Minister told heads of villages and districts during the gathering in Maubara that the information gathered must be concrete in order to have these people detained. (TP, STL, DN)